Chandigarh, September 16
The salaries of government employees have increased handsomely over the years but corruption continues unabated as there is no limit to human greed, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asserted in its order directing the state of Punjab to forward to the Centre “all documents pertaining to consideration for grant of sanction to prosecute” former Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Janjua.
Observations of the court
- The competent authority to accord sanction to prosecute an IAS officer is the Centre
- After the trial’s commencement, public servant may object to validity or absence of a valid sanction
- Sanctioning authority has to only see whether a prima facie case for commission of offence is made out
“Curiously, the criminal proceedings appear to have had no effect on the respondent, who rose to the positions of Financial Commissioner, Revenue, and Chief Secretary, which is the highest post in the state bureaucracy,” Justice Anupinder Singh Grewal asserted, while hearing a petition by Tulsi Ram Mishra, the complainant in the case.
Justice Grewal asserted social stigma attached to corruption was diminishing. The element of risk for indulging in corrupt practices was required to be increased to serve as a deterrent. “Corruption appears to be a low-risk and high-profit venture and it is imperative that it becomes a low profit and high-risk venture if it has to be ultimately eradicated. It is the need of the hour to adopt a zero tolerance approach to corruption,” Justice Grewal asserted.
In his 38-page order, Justice Grewal asserted that the court could not shut its eyes to the serious allegations against the petitioner. If the court allowed the matter to be closed or brushed under the carpet at this stage, it would fail in its duty to ensure justice was not only done, but seemed to be done in cases involving corruption by high government functionaries. It was the court’s sacred duty to uphold the rule of law.
Refusing to express opinion on the merits at the current stage, Justice Grewal observed the allegations were rather serious as he allegedly demanded Rs 6 lakh for allotting the vacant plot adjacent to the petitioner’s factory. On November 9, 2009, the Vigilance Bureau had laid a trap and allegedly recovered Rs 2 lakh in the presence of two witnesses.
The state government accorded sanction on April 27, 2010, but it was seemingly conscious that the competent authority was the Centre. It then addressed a communication to the Central Government on May 6, 2014, to consider the issue of grant of sanction, but it was later withdrawn on March 26, 2018. The petition was filed challenging the order, whereby Special Judge, Mohali, discharged the respondent.
Justice Grewal did not find any manifest illegality in the impugned order “for the time being”. But the State Chief Secretary was directed to forward the papers within a month to Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training. The competent authority in the Central Government was directed to consider the issue and take a final decision in accordance with law within three months, extendable by another month.
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